There have been significant developments in the Australian medicinal cannabis industry with the Turnbull Government now permitting the export of Australian manufactured medicinal cannabis products. This, in conjunction with the new clinical guidance documents published by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), will benefit Australian doctors and patients seeking access to medicinal cannabis products.

Export of medicinal cannabis now permitted

In October 2016, legislation was introduced to allow for legal cultivation, production and manufacturing of medicinal cannabis products in Australia.

On 4 January 2018, the Turnbull Government extended this to allow for the export of Australian manufactured medicinal cannabis products. This change intends to even the playing field for domestic manufacturers and expand the domestic medicinal cannabis industry. To protect Australian patients, it will be a condition of any licence authorising export that medicinal cannabis products be made available only after local demand is met.

Ultimately, the government is concerned with creating a robust Australian medicinal cannabis industry so that doctors and patients can access reliable, safe and good quality domestic products.

Clinical guidance documents for doctors and patients

In another recent development, the new guidance documents published by the TGA will mean that prescribers of medicinal cannabis products will have access to accurate, current and non-biased information about medicinal cannabis products.

Previously, one of the issues is that there are a limited number of well-designed clinical studies on medicinal cannabis. As a result, there is little evidence about the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis for use in different medical conditions. This makes it difficult for doctors to find quality evidence to support decisions to prescribe medicinal cannabis.

In response to this, the Department of Health, together with state and territory governments, have developed new clinical guidance documents for prescribers of medicinal cannabis. The Australian Advisory Council for the Medicinal use of Cannabis has endorsed these guidance documents.

The Guidance Documents and the results of the clinical studies can be found here.

Conclusion

Whilst the use of medicinal cannabis is still highly controlled, the ability to export medicinal cannabis products will aim to bring additional benefits for Australian manufacturers. These developments, in conjunction with the new clinical guidance documents, will also assist doctors and patients in the decision-making process when choosing to prescribe medicinal cannabis for various medical conditions.